Many people are surprised to learn how prevalent palm oil is in breakfast cereal. It continues to be difficult to find ready-to-eat cereals without palm oil ingredients. Many list “palm oil” in the ingredients, and a great many others fortify their cereals with Vitamin A Palmitate, a palm oil derivative.
Many cereals also contain Tocopherols which are typically derived from palm oil unless noted.
I became interested in palm oil in foods (and all products) since 2017 because my son gets sick from palm oil. In addition, I learned about environmental concerns. New palm oil plantations contribute to deforestation.
My goals are to encourage people to read labels on cereal (and everything) before buying. I want companies to find alternatives to using palm oil, especially in foods. I want them to apply for Palm Oil Free certification, and see this is as a marketing advantage.
As with most products, the less ingredients something has, the less chance for palm oil. This means, that the more “complicated” the cereal, the greater chance it contains palm oil.
I also have an in-depth post about breakfast without palm oil. Please bookmark it, and come back to it after reading about cereal, oatmeal, granola, and muesli.
Common palm oil ingredients in cereal
Table of Contents
By simply reading labels before buying, you can avoid palm oil in cereal. Here are the palm oil ingredients in ready-to-eat cereals. Watch for these:
- Mixed Tocopherols
- Tocopherol / Vitamin E
- Tocopherols to Maintain Freshness
- Glycerin, Vegetable Glycerin
- Palm in the name:
- Palm Oil and Palm Kernel Oil
- Vitamin A Palmitate
- Red Palm Oil
- Organic Palm Oil
- Hydrogenated Palm Oil
- The exception is Coconut Palm Sugar
- Monoglycerides, Mono- & Diglycerides
- Medium Chain Triglycerides
- Natural Flavors can contain palm oil
- Stearic Acid – found in oatmeal pouches
Instead of using palm oil, many flavors of Kellogg’s cereals now contain hydrogenated vegetable oil (coconut, soybean and/or cottonseed) instead. These may be questionable to some — as most RTE cereals are for a variety of reasons — and I agree. However, I’m writing this from the perspective of keeping my son from becoming sick.
Keep reading labels though because MOST ALL cereals do contain palm oil ingredients, including Tocopherols, Glycerin, Vegetable Glycerin, and/or Vitamin A Palmitate. It also can hide in Natural Flavors.
Vitamin A Palmitate in cereal
An easy way to tell if palm oil is in your cereal is to look at how much Vitamin A is in it. If it’s 10% or greater, it most often contains synthetic Vitamin A.
Then you can quickly look for Vitamin A Palmitate in the ingredients. If you are avoiding palm oil, watch for Vitamin A Palmitate. Vitamin A Acetate is different.
Cereal boxes used to list Vitamin A first in their nutrition panel. Now, many companies are putting Vitamin A in the middle making it more difficult to find. Be aware of this! Some oatmeal cups also fortify with Vitamin A Palmitate.
Cereals without palm oil
After researching cereals in grocery stores, including industry-leading cereals and many healthier brands, I’ve found these cereals without palm oil. I am basing this off of the ingredients they list on their cereal boxes.
While I read labels, reference the list of names for palm oil derivatives, and often email companies asking about their ingredients, the only way to be 100% certain a product is Palm Oil Free is if it has been certified through the Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark or through Orangutan Alliance.
Therefore, this list is not guaranteed; it shouldn’t be used for medical advice. Companies change ingredients and suppliers. They hide palm oil in many ingredients. Please do your own due diligence. None of these companies are claiming these products are palm oil free.
Kellogg’s Raisin Bran
Ingredients: Whole grain wheat, raisins, wheat bran, sugar, brown sugar syrup, malt flavor, salt.
This is a rare ready-to-eat cereal that does not list palm oil ingredients and derivatives. Check the ingredient label before you buy it to be you buy the right one. Their Raisin Bran Crunch contains: Vegetable Glycerin, Palm Oil, and Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E) in the ingredients.
Be sure you are buying Kellogg’s Raisin Bran and not Post’s Raisin Bran. Their boxes are similar! Post Raisin Bran contains Vitamin A Palmitate.
Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes (original)
Ingredients: Milled corn, sugar, malt flavor, salt. Vitamins and minerals: Iron, niacinamide, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, vitamin B1, folic acid, vitamin D3, vitamin B12.
Ingredients: Rice, milled corn, sugar, salt, molasses, brown rice syrup, baking soda, turmeric extract color. Vitamins and minerals: Iron, niacinamide, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, vitamin B1, folic acid, vitamin D3, vitamin B12.
Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats Little Bites
Ingredients: Whole grain wheat, sugar, brown rice syrup, gelatin, BHT for freshness. Vitamins and minerals: Reduced iron, folic acid.
Kellogg’s Special K Red Berries
Ingredients: Whole grain wheat, rice, sugar, freeze-dried strawberries, wheat bran, brown sugar syrup, salt, malt flavor. Vitamins and minerals: Vitamin C, reduced iron, vitamin E acetate, niacinamide, beta-carotene, vitamin B6, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, folic acid, vitamin D3, vitamin B12.
Kellogg’s Special K Original
Ingredients: Rice, wheat gluten, sugar, defatted wheat germ, salt, malt flavor, BHT for freshness. Vitamins and minerals: Reduced iron, vitamin C, niacinamide, vitamin E acetate, beta-carotene, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin D3, vitamin B12.
Kellogg’s Apple Jacks
Ingredients: Corn flour blend (whole grain yellow corn flour, degerminated yellow corn flour), sugar, wheat flour, whole grain oat flour, modified food starch, vegetable oil (hydrogenated coconut, soybean and/or cottonseed), oat fiber, salt, soluble corn fiber, degerminated yellow corn flour, dried apples, apple juice concentrate, cornstarch, cinnamon, natural flavor, modified corn starch, yellow 6, wheat starch, baking soda, yellow 5, red 40, blue 1, BHT for freshness.
Vitamins and minerals: Reduced iron, niacinamide, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, vitamin B1, folic acid, vitamin D3, vitamin B12.
I looked boxes of General Mills cereal at my local grocery store, and every one contained Tocopherols. Unless the Tocopherols are labeled with the source — as in Tocopherols (Sunflower) — you have no way of knowing if they contain palm oil or not.
Therefore, I am not including them in this list of cereals without palm oil. I will continue to look when I go to other stores and update accordingly.
As I mentioned earlier, my son gets sick from palm oil. Before we knew about palm oil derivatives in Tocopherols, he once got very sick from eating a cereal with them.
Post Golden Crisp
Ingredients: Sugar, wheat, corn syrup, salt, honey, caramel color. Vitamins and minerals: Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate (a B-Vitamin), Folic Acid.
Post Grape Nuts Original
Ingredients: Whole grain wheat flour, malted barley flour, salt, dried yeast. Vitamins and minerals: Reduced iron, vitamin B3, zinc oxide, vitamin B6, vitamin B1, folic acid.
Purely Elizabeth Honey Peanut Butter Superfood Cereal
Ingredients: Sorghum, Organic Gluten-Free Oats, Almonds, Maple Syrup, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Honey, Organic Quinoa, Organic Coconut Nectar, Organic Coconut Sugar, Peanut Butter, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Cinnamon, Sea Salt, Organic Puffed Amaranth, Organic Chia Seeds, Vanilla Extract, Organic Veg D3
See below for some of Purely Elizabeth’s granolas without palm oil.
Kashi Go Original
Ingredients: Soy protein concentrate, degerminated yellow corn flour, Kashi Seven Whole Grain Honey Puff cereal (hard red wheat, brown rice, hone, cane syrup, barley, triticale, oats, rye, buckwheat, sesame seeds), ground degerminated corn, wheat bran, oat fiber, cane sugar, expeller pressed soy flour, corn bran, Kashi Seven Whole Grain & Sesame flour (oats, hard red wheat, rye, brown rice, triticale, barley, buckwheat, sesame seeds), salt, natural flavors, annatto extract for color.
Kashi GO Peanut Butter Crunch Cereal
Ingredients: Soy flakes, peanut butter (peanuts), brown rice syrup, whole grain oats, puffed whole grain blend (hard red wheat, brown rice, barley, rye), cane sugar, expeller pressed canola oil, acacia gum, molasses, sea salt, peanut oil, rosemary extract for freshness.
Kashi Organic Cinnamon Harvest
Ingredients: Whole grain wheat, cane sugar, cinnamon, natural flavor.
O Organics Organic Raisin Bran Cereal
Ingredients: Organic whole wheat flour, organic raisins (organic raisins, organic sunflower oil), organic wheat bran, organic cane sugar, organic barley malt syrup, salt, color (organic black carrot juice, organic annatt0).
O Organics Organic Wheat Squares Cereal
Ingredients: Organic whole grain wheat, organic cane sugar, organic barley malt extract, sea salt
Seven Sundays Grain Free Cereal
Ingredients: Cassava, Sunflower Protein, Dates, Coconut Sugar, Coconut Oil, Cinnamon
Real Berry Sunflower Cereal
Ingredients: Cassava, Sunflower Protein, Maple Syrup, Coconut Oil, Strawberries, Blueberries, Vanilla Extract, Lemon Extract
Maple Sea Salt Sunflower Cereal
Ingredients: Cassava, Sunflower Protein, Maple Syrup, Coconut Oil, Dates, Maple Sugar, Vanilla Extract, Sea Salt
Real Cocoa Sunflower Cereal
Ingredients: Cassava, Sunflower Protein, Dates, Cocoa Powder, Coconut Sugar, Coconut Oil, Vanilla Extract, Sea Salt
Oatmeal without palm oil
Often, instant oatmeal cups and instant oatmeal packets contain palm oil as well as palm oil in the form of Vitamin A Palmitate. I also saw one brand that contained Stearic Acid, which can also contain palm oil.
Read labels before buying. Choose steel-cut oats or old-fashioned rolled oats, and make your own palm oil free oatmeal. You should be able to find them at most grocery stores. Buy organic if it fits within your budget.
According to EatThisNotThat.com, “Steel-cut oats are the least processed [type of oats] and the best option health-wise,” says Kylie Ivanir, MS, RD, a registered dietitian with Within Nutrition. “The fibers in them are very healthy for the gut, hormones, satiety, and weight loss.”
Steel cut oats are higher in fiber and protein than instant oats and rolled oats because they are less processed.
Oats – Any brand
You can buy a container of oats (most any brand that just contains “oats”, and make your own oatmeal. Here are some popular oatmeal brands:
- Bob’s Red Mill
- O Organics
- Open Nature
- Quaker Oats
- Store brand oatmeal such as Kroger, Signature Select, or Good & Gather
Make it your own. Add dried or fresh fruit, nuts, brown sugar, and anything else for variety. Some of favorite combinations include:
- Cinnamon and cut-up apple
- Bananas and walnuts
- Chocolate chips and walnuts or pecans
- Berries and almonds
- Pistachios and apricot, peach, nectarine, etc.
Granola without palm oil
Just as I recommend making your own oatmeal, I recommend making this homemade granola recipe. Once you do it, you’ll see how easy and tasty it is.
It’s hard to find palm oil free versions of granola in bags or boxes in stores because companies add Glycerin, Mixed Tocopherols, Tocopherols, and Tocopherols with Vitamin E.
Tocopherols in granola are often made with palm oil unless they note the source. They are common in granola.
Purely Elizabeth granola
We are happy to have confirmed with the brand Purely Elizabeth that they offer a wide variety of granola without palm oil. Avoid their Probiotics granola. Their probiotic cultures contain palm oil.
Years ago, Purely Elizabeth was the first granola without palm oil I found. It was at Target. My son and I were thrilled! They use real ingredients you can recognize and pronounce.
So far, we’ve tried Purely Elizabeth’s Blueberry Hemp Ancient Grain and the Cranberry Pecan Granola. We buy them regularly from from Target.
Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Granola
Blueberry Hemp Granola: Organic Gluten-Free Oats, Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Coconut Oil, Dried Blueberries (Blueberries, Cane Sugar, Sunflower Oil), Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Puffed Amaranth, Organic Hemp Seeds, Organic Quinoa Flakes, Organic Chia Seeds, Organic Cinnamon, Sea Salt.
Original Grain Granola: Organic Gluten-Free Oats, Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Raw Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Puffed Amaranth, Organic Quinoa Flakes, Organic Chia Seeds, Organic Cinnamon, Salt.
Cranberry Pecan Granola: Organic Gluten-Free Oats, Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Raw Virgin Coconut Oil, Dried Cranberries (Cranberries, Cane Sugar, Sunflower Oil), Organic Pecans, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Amaranth Puffs, Organic Quinoa Flakes, Organic Chia Seeds, Organic Cinnamon, Salt.
Vanilla Chocolate Chip Granola: Organic Gluten-Free Oats, Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Fair Trade Dark Chocolate Chunks (Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Chocolate Liquor, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Vanilla Extract), Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Quinoa Flakes, Organic Puffed Amaranth, Organic Chia Seeds, Sea Salt, Vanilla Extract.
Pumpkin Cinnamon: Organic Gluten-Free Oats, Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Raw Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Raw Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Puffed Amaranth, Organic Quinoa Flakes, Organic Chia Seeds, Organic Cinnamon, Salt.
Purely Elizabeth Grain-Free Granola
Vanilla Almond Butter Keto Grain Free Granola: Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Cashews, Organic Coconut Sugar, Almonds, Organic Coconut Flakes, Almond Butter, Organic Medium-Chain Triglyceride Oil from Coconuts, Organic Chia Seeds, Organic Cinnamon, Sea Salt, Vanilla Extract.
Coconut Cashew Granola: Organic Sunflower Seeds, Cashews, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Raw Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Coconut Flakes, Almond Flour, Organic Chia Seeds, Cashew Butter, Organic Hemp Seeds, Vanilla Extract, Organic Cinnamon, Sea Salt.
Note, their Probiotic Granola Flavors contain palm oil and are clearly stated in the ingredients. They aren’t hidden as Tocopherols, etc. I am unsure of the source of the Glycerin in one of their products.
Muesli without palm oil
Seven Sundays Oat Based Muesli
Seven Sundays is a brand I first heard of when I saw it years ago at Costco. I bought their Early Riser Dark Chocolate Mix, and it was excellent. Since I haven’t seen it at Costco since, I have purchased directly from Seven Sundays website as well as on Amazon.
I also appreciate how easy it is to see the ingredients for each of their products on their website.
Seven Sundays Early Riser Dark Chocolate Muesli
Ingredients: Gluten free oats, dates (dates, rice flour), sorghum flakes, dark chocolate (coconut sugar, coconut liquor, cocoa butter), almonds, coconut, cocoa powder, pumpkin seeds, pure vanilla extract, cinnamon.
Wild & Free Blueberry Muesli
Ingredients: Gluten free oats, sorghum flakes, buckwheat groats, blueberries (blueberries, apple juice), organic wildflower honey, apples, coconut, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, lemon extract.
Classic Bircher Apple Cinnamon Muesli
Ingredients: Gluten free oats, sorghum flakes, buckwheat groats, almonds, dates (dates, rice flour), currants, unsweetened coconut chips (no sulfites), pumpkin seeds, apples, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, cinnamon and cardamom.
Farmers Market Mix – Almond Date Currant
Ingredients: organic gluten free oats, organic dates (dates, rice flour), organic buckwheat, organic almonds, organic currants, organic sorghum flakes, organic flax seeds and organic sunflower seeds.
Seven Sundays Muesli without Oats / Keto
Rise & Shine Keto Muesli
Ingredients: Almonds, coconut, sunflower seeds, dates, pecans, strawberries, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, bananas, chia seeds, cinnamon, pure vanilla extract.
Cereals that now contain palm oil
There are many cereals that used to be palm oil free that now contain palm oil. These are some of them from recent years that I used to have on this list.
- Quaker Life Cereal – Life Cereal used to not contain Tocopherols. Thank you to the reader who in October 2021 wrote in to tell me about this change. They may have changed in 2020; I hadn’t purchased it in awhile.
The ingredient labels on the Life Cereal boxes say: Tocopherols (To Preserve Freshness). I looked up their website and see Tocopherols listed in all their Life Cereal flavors:
- Life Cereal Original
When on their website, I clicked on Tocopherols in the nutrient information for these cereals. It says: Tocopherols (or Tocopheryl) are a form of Vitamin E. They are derived from vegetable oils.
Palm oil is a vegetable oil. So are many other oils. However, consumers have No Idea what these unnamed vegetable oils are because The Company That Is Using Them Isn’t Telling Us.
Interestingly, I clicked on their Oatmeal Squares to see what it said about the source of their Natural Flavors. It says: Natural flavors are obtained from essences or extracts of substances found in nature such as spices, fruits, fruit juices, vegetables, or herbs. The exact composition of flavoring components that are in our beverages are proprietary PepsiCo information and cannot be disclosed without violating the confidentiality of our formula.
I clicked on their Simply Granola: Oats, Apple, Cranberries & Almonds. They wrote this about the Glycerin in this granola: Glycerin is a simple polyol compound that can be sourced from plants or animals and can be used in creating flavors.
My son has gotten sick from Natural Flavors before. I would not trust buying Oatmeal Squares for him. (Plus, this cereal has Tocopherols, so I wouldn’t buy it anyway.)
- Quaker Quisp – Contains Tocopherols without the source.
And unfortunately, Quaker discontinued these cereals that were once made without palm oil ingredients: Puffed Rice; Puffed Wheat; Corn Crunch.
- Honey Comb cereal now contains palm oil
Honey Comb from Post used to be palm free but in mid-2018 they began to fortify it with Vitamin A Palmitate. Most likely what’s on the shelves now is Honey Comb’s revised product which advertises “It’s Back! Original Flavor.”
The version on the shelf prior to this change (the left cereal box in yellow) did not include palm oil derivatives and was one of the few “sugar cereals” my son could eat. We no longer buy this cereal but bought the remaining boxes from three stores.
How to find cereals without palm oil ingredients
You may be avoiding everything with the word “palm” in it. And that’s a great start. However, when it’s disguised as other names, it gets trickier. You might not realize there are many other names for palm oil in cereal and other foods.
Many fortified cereals contain palm oil ingredients. Many contain Vitamin A Palmitate, which is a synthetic vitamin manufacturers make with palm oil.
Fortified cereals sometimes contain Vitamin E in the form of Tocopherols. Note that Tocopherols and Mixed Tocopherols are also often added to cereals and other products to preserve freshness.
Alternate names for palm oil derivatives in cereal
Once you know what to look for in cereals, it will be a lot easier to find them without palm oil.
Vitamin A Palmitate contains palm oil
If you see a cereal with DV of 10% or more of Vitamin A, it will oftentimes be Vitamin A Palmitate. This synthetic vitamin contains palm oil. You will find this palm oil derivative in most of your Kellogg’s and General Mills cereals.
- Retinol Hexadecanoate
- Retinol, Palmitate, All-trans-
- Retinol Palmitate
- Retinyl Hexadecanoate
Other forms of Vitamin A in cereal is Vitamin A Acetate.
In Post and Quaker, you will see them less often as many of their cereals aren’t fortified with Vitamin A.
(Also, if you add milk to your cereal, watch for Vitamin A Palmitate. It’s added to 2%, low fat, and fat free milks, but not whole milk.)
Palm oil and palm kernel oil
Many Kellogg’s, General Mills, and Post cereals will state palm oil or palm kernel oil right on the ingredients.
Complex flavors such as chocolate, peanut butter, Oreo, etc. often contain palm oil. Also, watch out for cereals that are coated, waxy or greasy feeling.
All of these will have these ingredients listed with the actual words “palm,” which makes it easier.
Glycerin is often made from palm oil
You have to watch out for Vegetable Glycerin and Glycerin in cereals as well. It’s often made with palm oil. Glycerin is common in granola. If it doesn’t list the source, you won’t know whether it’s derived from palm oil.
Tocopherols ingredients often contain palm oil
In my quest to find cereals without palm oil, I made many mistakes. Very unfortunately, my son paid the price in terms of getting sick from the palm oil we didn’t know was in the cereals. I bought several varieties of palm-free-seeming cereals, and each one made him sick.
I didn’t know why until I learned Tocopherols are often made from palm oil, especially when used in lower cost products.
Tocopherols can be added as a form of Vitamin E and/or to preserve freshness in cereals and other foods.
The symptoms my son had after eating cereals with Tocopherols were different from when he consumed the other palm oil ingredients.
While cereals and foods with palm oil gave him immediate congestion and throat clearing, etc., cereals with Tocopherols made him completely exhausted and lethargic and caused him to have a few hives. I’ve contacted many companies asking about their Tocopherols.
Many cereal manufacturers use palm oil to make tocopherols. We do not take the chance and avoid them completely.
Alternate names for palm oil
As you may know, palm oil ingredients go by hundreds of names. This extensive list contains hundreds of palm oil derivative ingredient names. You can print it here. Keep it with you as a resource if you are trying to avoid palm oil.
Carry it with you, and before buying any new products — foods and self-care products — reference it. It’s a way to help you buy palm-free cereal and products.
After doing this a few times, you will know what to look for and the products and brands to buy.
Palm oil free scanner app
In addition, you can install a palm oil finder app. We have had success with SpoonGuru. It’s a free app which has been good at finding hidden palm oil derivatives. You can scan the cereal’s UPC code to see if it contains palm oil.
Read labels before buying
It’s so important to support these companies. Please especially support these specific products who don’t use palm oil ingredients in their cereals.
See our list of palm free products:
- Cookies without palm oil
- Granola bars without palm oil
- Pretzels without palm oil
- Peanut butter without palm oil
- Snacks without palm oil
Be sure to read the labels as companies change ingredients in their products.
Palm oil free cereal
As palm oil becomes even more prevalent in products, hopefully there will be more information to help people find products without it. Cereal is a staple in our house. It’s been a challenge to find cereals without palm oil. We are always on the lookout for more cereals.
We will continue to buy palm free cereal and products. If we are not certain they are, we don’t buy them.
Palm oil free cereals
Please support this list of cereals. We compiled it to make it easier to find cereals without palm oil. We will be brand-loyal to these cereals and applaud them for using palm-free alternatives.
To the best of our knowledge, after cross-referencing their ingredients against hundreds of names of palm oil derivatives and checking with companies, these cereals do not have palm oil ingredients. However, to be sure a product is palm oil free, it needs to have certified Palm Oil Free labeling.
Please note, content on this site is for reference purposes only. We do not warrant that the ingredient, sourcing, allergen, and product information is accurate or complete. Our information comes from product manufacturers.
Product formulas, ingredients, and labels change. Please read labels and do your due diligence.
If you know of or find granola and cereals without palm oil, please include them in the Comments so we can support these brands. Why do you avoid palm oil?